Never Too Late For a Fond Farewell
Hone Harawira – Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tokerau
Wednesday 2 April 2008
Never Too Late For a Fond Farewell
Last night Parliament lost one of its more distinguished members - Tumu Putaura – one of our security officers. Actually, I never knew what his real name was till today, ‘cause like many others, I just called him uncle.
Tumu was a real gentleman – always polite, always courteous, always pleasant, and always respectful.
He came from the great city of Avarua in Rarotonga, where he was one of the pioneers who helped launch Radio Cook Islands.
Tumu was also in a band back in Rarotonga, noted for switching his station on ‘automatic’ so he could sneak off to whatever gig they had booked for the night.
Not long after that, he moved to Aotearoa, where he took up employment here at parliament, and just last year, celebrated 20 years with Parliamentary Security.
Tumu was one of that rare breed of men – very rare round here particularly – that everybody liked, and everybody respected.
Tumu was a humble man, who never said anything bad about anyone – not even us politicians, and he never lost touch with his music, and was often heard quietly singing or humming around parliament.
So uncle – haere koe. Hoki atu ki to ükaipö. Hoki atu ki te okioki.
We love you. We miss you. Farewell.
Mr Speaker, Tumu’s passing also made me think about how we are all affected in some way or other, by the many personalities and experiences that make up this place, and today I’d like to mention another one of them.
Nandor Tanczos has been a real inspiration to me - a politician who lives by his principles, and a man who cares deeply about the world, and who stands by his love for papatuanuku, and our role as caretakers of her future.
Famous for his dreads, and being our first and only Rastafarian MP, Nandor’s also taken a few knocks for indulging in the herb, but he’s always carried his beliefs with dignity and with honour – never ramming them down anyone’s throats, but never apologising for them either.
And when I first saw him skateboarding I laughed up large … I mean, who else here gets a kick out of doing things our young people enjoy … who else for that matter, can even ride a skateboard?
Nandor has a genuine love for people, particularly those from the street, and his compassion for those in need, has always warmed my heart.
He argues passionately for peace and for justice, and has a long and proud history of confronting prejudice, and fighting discrimination.
And he speaks beautiful Maori. One Waitangi Day I recall him doing his whole mihi in Maori, right after I’d just welcomed everyone in English. Shame on me, and big ups to him.
And the thing about Nandor is that he doesn’t speak Maori to win votes. He speaks Maori, because his children are Maori, because his friends are Maori, and because his whanau is Maori, as well as Hungarian, South African, Khoi, Dutch, German, and Kiwi.
Nandor shook this place up when he first came in here with his dreadlock turban, his hemp suit, his wide smile, and his crazy ways, and this parliament is a better place for his having graced our presence.
Nandor and I had a good korero up at Parihaka about his leaving, and I respect his reasons for moving on. Parliament ain’t the centre of power in Aotearoa; it’s just a place that passes laws.
Real power lies outside these walls, in the hands of those who choose to either live by those laws, or challenge them for a higher standard, and I wish my brother well in shaking up our world, from the outside.
Tumu’s passing reminded me that we often don’t get the chance to say what we really think, about people who mean a lot to us, while they’re with us.
Nandor’s leaving, gives me the chance to change that.
I don’t know when he’s going, but I’m going to miss him when he does; his humility, his passion, his depth, his searching mind, his love, his humour, and the peace that always surrounds him in this world of madness and mayhem.
His lovely daughter Pirimaia is going to be happy to have her daddy back, and if he’s lucky, Sharney’ll be happy to have him back too.
So go well my brother. You have a long life ahead of you, and many challenges still to face. Fight the good fight, and never, ever forget to keep challenging us to remember who we are, where we have come from, and what our dreams are.
Oh yes, one more thing … Mum … happy birthday. I love you too.